Schumer: 'We Were Happy to Give' Republicans 'a Bit of a Fig Leaf'
(CNSNews.com) - The bipartisan deal to reopen the government and temporarily lift the debt ceiling includes one small Obamacare element -- a provision that says people's incomes must be verified before they can get Obamacare subsidies to help pay their insurance premiums.
But this was not a concession to Republicans, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told CNN's Jake Tapper on Wednesday.
"It's, you know, it is, frankly, a bit of a fig leaf, which we were happy to give, but that was not a negotiation. That was not what Ted Cruz and the others started to demand that we give them."
Schumer noted that income verification is part of the Affordable Care Act, although earlier this year, the Health and Human Services Secretary said the health exchanges would accept self-reported earnings figures in awarding subsidies.
'They won't try it again'
Schumer said Democrats got everything they wanted in the debt deal: "open the government, pay our debts, then we'll negotiate."
He said the "silver lining" of the political battle is that "mainstream conservative Republicans realize that politics of confrontation, of reckless brinksmanship, doesn't work, and we won't go through this on Feb. 7 (the next debt-limit deadline), or on into the year."
Schumer used much of the interview to marginalize the tea party Republicans.
"I believe that certainly in the Senate, and even in the House, the hard-right group of Republicans has been discredited, not only by the poll numbers, but because they really didn't have a strategy. And once everyone has learned that we Democrats are no longer going to cave to this brinksmanship, they won't try it again. And so we'll have a much, much better next year than we did this year."
Schumer touted the unity of Democrats who "stood firm," comparing his party to "these tea party folks who are so out of the mainstream."
"And so what's happened here, is that this extreme group has finally been stood up, and now maybe in an ironic way, Democrats have given mainstream Republicans some of these strengths -- to go forward and negotiate on a reasonable basis, where you get something and not everything."
Schumer said the nation has made "good progress" on the debt and deficits, partly because of the sequester and partly because of higher taxes on wealth Americans, which took effect at the beginning of 2013.
"There's is another issue that I think is even more important -- and that is that middle class incomes in America are declining. It has never happened...And we ought to give as much focus to that as to debt reduction. I am not belittling the importance of debt reduction, I believe in it. But it is not the only issue.
"And again, with the peaking o the tea party, I think other issues will come into play. For all we know, we may get a good immigration bill now. Because, same thing -- a small group of outliers said, 'I am not going to go for that,' and in the past, too many Republicans went along with them."